ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Police recruits are learning what to do in domestic violence situations through role-playing at the St. Louis County Police Academy. 

“Learning in an environment like this where the role players aren’t going to harm them is an important step in them learning what to do,” said Detective Liz Edwards, St. Louis County Domestic Violence Unit.

On Thursday, police recruits answered mock calls that lasted less than 20 minutes. Detective Edwards said the mock calls are a chance for the recruits to develop a gut instinct. 

“When we walked in the house or the door opened, the female had a lot of lacerations to her face, as well as a lot of furniture that was displaced that normally shouldn’t have been. So that was a first clue things have been thrown around a little bit, people have been getting hit,” said Leigha Witney, Creve Coeur Police Recruit.

“Before we could make a decision, we had to get the stories first. Based on what we were taught, just by looking at the bruises around her face and on him, we could tell that she was the one getting hit, and she had to do something to get away from it,” said Kenny Antoine, University City Police Recruit.

While the situation the recruits responded to was a simulation, it is something police frequently see. During the first half of 2023, county police responded to 5,221 verbal altercations, compared to 5,302 in 2022.

“It’s unfortunately a common call that everyone has to deal with. Domestic violence is prevalent, and it’s unfortunately not going away,” said Detective Edwards.